Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee – Vol. 19
I’m sure you have noticed that the leaves are changing fast and will probably peak this week, as many swamp lands red maples have already dropped their leaves. Lake shorelines are lined with many reds and yellows. The beech nuts on all my trees have browned up and some have already fallen in the driveway. Most of those are false nuts or ones the birds have picked on and dropped to the ground.
I’m sure the bears have been working on them, but they have so many berries to pick from; why climb a tree when the fruit is right in front of you. They can almost lay down and eat the berries, as they are so thick on the bushes. Early bear season opened last weekend, but now that the other areas of the state are open for bear, there isn’t as much pressure up here as there used to be. I hardly ever went through an opening weekend where nearly every campsite in the Moose River Plains wasn’t full and I didn’t have a lost hunter, who had no map or compass.
I had heard that there was a moose visiting Helldiver Pond again, so I went in on Tuesday morning, oh dark thirty. Lots of little birds, both sparrows and thrushes, flew out of the road as I went drove in when it was dark. There was a camper at the site by the parking area, but they were fast asleep. I had seen lots of moose tracks in the road, just before the trail turn off, so I thought this was a good sign. Day was just breaking when I got to the pond, which was covered with fog, as it was just forty degrees. There was a red squirrel, not far away, dropping cones from a red spruce tree, as I could hear them clunking down through the branches to the ground. He would chatter at me every once in a while, and drop a few more cones. Then, there was some action on the pond, as a beaver swam across and went into its lodge. About ten minutes later, another beaver caught my eye and did the same thing. A black backed woodpecker started working on a tree not far from me, so I got out my camera. But seeing as he had a yellow top knot, I didn’t get where I could take his picture. The sun just hit on the far ridge and I saw something way across the pond. A cow moose stepped into the pond, took a few nibbles off the surface, and looked like she took a drink. I had put my camera back in my pack, so I got it out and she was gone, back into the woods, never to be seen again and before I got her picture. I watched for about an hour more. As the woodpecker worked around me, a kingfisher flew by, giving me a few calls, and a raven came over, warning others that I was around.
I checked out the tracks in the road and it looked like it was a cow moose and two calves had played up and down the road during the night, and a big bull had walked down the road toward the big T. They are on the move this time of the year and they are in the area, so be aware. If you hit one with the car, you might not be a happy camper.
While wandering around back in the Plains, I saw all the bushes that have grown up along the road were covered with berries. Any birds traveling south will have more than enough to eat along the way, except for hummers. Speaking of hummers, ours left this week, a couple days earlier than last year. I did have a sphinx moth on my flowers during this week.
I’ve seen a few warblers lingering, but they wouldn’t be here much longer. With the cone crop, there should be all kinds of winter birds (crossbills, pine siskins, redpolls and grosbeaks) from up north camping out, with some nesting here this winter.
The monarchs are on the move with lots of them hatching every day. Herkimer County Highway mowed down a few hundred along the South Shore Road last week, when they mowed the roadside. If they had waited just another week, many of these would have come out of chrysalis and been on their way. I saw that they had moved the mower to the Big Moose Road, so I picked all the caterpillars on the milkweeds along there over the weekend and moved them to a safe place. Mine at the house are hatching out six or seven each day, with about forty or more to go.
They are using the fall wildflowers to get some energy on their travels west. The purple and white asters and joe pye weed are some of their favorites. This week should be good for them, as they need warmer temperatures and sunshine to warm up before they take flight. It’s a long journey from here to Mexico, but lots of them make it and I hope many survive the winter to start back this way next spring.
Enjoy the changing leaves, as they don’t last that long, but that’s another story. See ya.
North Branch of the Moose River
Big Moose Road - cinnamon ferns